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William Morris was always interested in other cultures -- he traveled to Iceland and with Eirikr Magnusson, he translated the Volsung Saga and parts of the Poetic Edda. He was well familiar with The Arabian Nights and referred to it casually in conversation and letters, so we can guess it was not unknown to his contemporaries. By the 1880s, his attention had turned to the East. He imported Iznik (which he and his friends called "Persian" pottery, and hand knitted rugs from the same era. He studied these pieces and began using the style in the decorative arts products produced at Merton Abbey. By the 1880s, peacocks, and fantastic birds from far away places, had achieved widespread popularity in Victorian culture. The peacock features proiminantly in his Peacock and Dragon design, which was already in production by 1978.
But the peacock had a rich history before long before their rediscovery by William Morris. In India, they were a symbol of royalty, and in Middle Ages were a symbol of the Resurrection. As Arts & Crafts transitioned into Art Nouveau, the peacock remained a favored motif. Walter Crane's Islamic/Indian peacock dish in 1906 and Louis Comfort Tiffany iridescent peacock vase in 1901 are examples.
Not only had Morris mentored De Morgan early in his career, but their friendship persisted and Morris & Co. continued to be a primarily outlet for De Morgan's tiles after he had struck out on his own. Perhaps influenced by Morris, but certainly by the popularity of "Persian" ceramics, De Morgan developed his "Persian" color pallete: Persian blue (a medium ultramarine to dark blue), turquoise, green, strong yellow, a slightly yellow green, with accents in varying shades of manganese purple, and Indian red.
The Peacock borders are available with the original pink carnations, and also purple and red carnations. All have yellow centers.
Original turquoise, Persian blue (ultramarine), warm white
Application: This is a small decorative border tile, suitable for any interior wall. Tiles are ceramic and 6 x 3 inches.
Title: William De Morgan : Peacock Border Tiles in Persian Colors
Panels: A two tile set, with seamless repeat panel. Red carnations (shown above) also available.
Size: 6 x 3 inches.
Thickness: 3/8 inch (1 cm)
Colors: Can be modified slightly. See How to Order Tile.
Availability: Can usually be shipped within a week.
Per tile: $44
Turquoise and Persian blue (a medium to dark blue), green, strong yellow, a slightly yellow green, with varying shade of mangese purple and Indian red.
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